The so-called Sermon on the Mount takes up three chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel. There are five such discourses in his Gospel. Matthew’s purpose in writing is to portray Jesus as the new Moses, the new law giver. So just as the Bible begins with five books, Matthew’s Gospel contains five discourses.
Several times throughout this first discourse Jesus says that he has come to fulfill the Law just in case someone gets the notion that he is trying to do away with the Law. He says so again today when he sums up the Law and the Prophets in what we have come to know as the Golden Rule. Do onto others what you would have them do onto you.
Quite amazingly, in the last discourse of St. Matthew’s Gospel he ends with a parable in which we learn that when we follow the Golden Rule, when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked, etc., that which we do for the least of humanity, we do onto Jesus himself.
The Golden Rule stands quite tenaciously all by itself, but when it is paired with this last saying about doing this onto Jesus himself, it becomes all the more powerful. In addition, also quite amazingly, that last parable tells us that this is the only criteria, the ONLY criteria that will be used when it comes to separating the sheep from the goats. Did we treat each other as we wish to be treated? Did we take care of each other and thereby take care of Jesus as well?
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator